Formula one, 2001 season German Grand Prix at Hockenheim: Setting the Scene: the jpoc report

The run up to Hockenheim saw most teams heading off to Monza for high speed testing on a circuit with characteristics similar to those at the German track. The main alternative venue was the Valencia track in Spain for the teams that wished to concentrate on preparations for the Hungarian race that followed on from Hockenheim. Prost could not afford to test so they stayed at home and played cards while Arrows worked in private on new aerodynamics components.

The first days testing at Monza was marred by a an accident involving Michael Schumacher's Ferrari. He was completely unbhurt but his Pink Floyd curtailed the team's testing as the car was too badly damaged to be repaired at the track. Ferrari later blamed the accident on damage to the car's lower bodywork saying that the high kerbs at the circuit's first chicane may have caused the damage. The times set at Monza carried little useful information to outside observers as drivers opted to follow or straight line the first chicane. The teams of course known which line was taken on each lap and so they get useful data but it does serve to make things a little harder for other teams to judge comparitive performances.

On the second day of the Monza test, Minardi trainee and hopeful, Alex Yoong was given another outing. He was seven seconds off the pace which, so far would not even trouble Tarso Marques. There were quite a few incidents on the second day. Jarno Trulli lost the rear wing from his Jordan. He managed to avoid an accident but it must have been a trouser darkening moment. Trouser darkening moments also put paid to David Coulthard's scheduled run in the test as he was laid low with food poisoning. Further up the pitlane the BMW engineers were left examining the remains of their second engine blow up in as many days.

On the third day of the test, Alex Yoong was just four seconds off the pace but the fastest times of the day were set by the Jaguars of Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa so perhaps the front runners were not trying to set fast times. Or perhaps they were affected by the spate of engine blow ups which hit Benetton and McLaren as well as Williams. Jordan test driver Zonta added to the tally on the final day of the test as his Honda engine also let go.

It was after the Monza test that the biggest news arrived. Jordan sacked Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Why? Nobody was saying. Jordan told Zonta that he would be driving at Hockenheim and they told Frentzen that his contract was terminated forthwith. It all seemed likely to end up in the courts which was probably the main reason that neither party wanted to talk about it. Zonta only had a certain place for the Hockenheim race. Frentzen had no immediate options lined up. Eddie Jordan was tight lipped and the lawyers were calling their property agents to enquire about agreeable chalets in the Swiss Alps to purchase when they received their expected fees.

Others were not so reluctant to speak out. The Schumacher brothers and even Frentzen's former team mate Trulli commented that it was not a good thing. For what it's worth, jpoc needed to send some important documents half way across Europe and the express delivery system run by Jordan sponsor Deutsche Post were last on the list of potential couriers. (UPS got the business and the documents arrived eight hours ahead of time! Perhaps Heinz-Harald already had his new driving job sorted.)


The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Who drives what?
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Which engine goes where?
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Circuit developments
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Business and politics
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Teams and personnel
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Practice and qualifying
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th The starting grid
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Race report
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Results
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Championship standings after the race
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